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Stroke patient w/Subluxation and rotator cuff issues
by: Jennifer Anderson


I am a massage therapist and I just picked up a new client who has experienced multiple strokes and is unable to walk, talk or eat on his own. I have been selected as his massage therapist to massage his upper body but I do have some concerns as to making sure the massage is comfortable and things I can suggest to the family to help with the subluxation in his left shoulder and rotator cuff in his right. The doctors refuse to perform surgery due to his health condition. So as a massage therapist what can I suggest or do in my treatment to help him get the mobility back in his arms? Thank you in advance for any suggestions you might have.

Jennifer Anderson, LMT

Reply from I would probably avoid making suggestions for exercises for stroke as I believe this would be out of the scope of practice of a massage therapist unless you have had special training/education on doing exercises with stroke patients. I do think it would be within your scope of practice to show family how to help massage, position, manage edema, or perhaps do stretches. Since I am a not a massage therapist, I do not know what falls within your scope of practice exactly, but I would definitely stay within those guidelines and make sure it applies to patients with medical conditions such as stroke.

You could definitely mention things to avoid such as pulling on the arm and avoiding awkward positions. You could print out information from the internet for them, but I would express to the family that the information is not medical advice and strictly information you found on the internet that you think may be helpful. You can find information about subluxation, doing range of motion, and managing spasticity on my website as well as many other sources on the internet. The pages from my website include: (see the passive range of motion video on this page, but realize this person has no limitations and a stroke patient with subluxation should be ranged to probably no more than 90 degrees of shoulder flexion or less if pain occurs before 90 degrees).

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